Be patient, stay late for late-season turkeys

Lone gobblers whose hens are nesting are likely to be doing a lot of traveling, especially late in the morning and early in the afternoon, when they can be fooled and killed.
Lone gobblers whose hens are nesting are likely to be doing a lot of traveling, especially late in the morning and early in the afternoon, when they can be fooled and killed.

Time to dial back your calling

Turkey hunters find a big problem from mid-April through the end of the spring turkey season is that most “easy” turkeys have been killed, and the remaining ones are more wary and won’t come to calls.

But don’t fret; there are things a hunter can do.

Mike Seamster, a respected biologist now retired after managing wild- turkey populations for 30 years, said patience is the first response hunters should have to shut-mouth, scared-of-their-shadow gobblers.

“The main thing is patience … patience kills a lot of turkeys,” he said. “If you don’t hear any gobblers at daylight to 9 a.m. or so, stay in the woods. You’re liable to hear a gobbler at mid-morning or even in the afternoon. If it’s the lull period, they’ll leave hens or the hens will have left them at some point. Then, you got a chance.”

One of Seamster’s favorite tactics is to locate a gobbler that’s calling hens to his tree, sneak in close, set up and yelp or purr a couple times, then stop calling.

“Sometimes he might gobble, then up in the morning, say 10:30, he might come to where he heard you call at daylight, looking for that hen he heard,” Seamster said. “You can even eat lunch, then go back and call a time or two, and he might answer. This happens a lot, even after hunting season ends.”

Be patient with late-season turkeys; they have heard plenty of calls and are extremely wary, so different tactics may be required.
Be patient with late-season turkeys; they have heard plenty of calls and are extremely wary, so different tactics may be required.

Seamster said once, in late June, he was working on a tract of land on a public hunting area when he heard a gobbler across the road.

“I had a (call) in my truck and called, and he came out on the edge of the highway, looking for the hen — during June,” said Seamster, who has killed a lot of birds late in the season and late in the morning. “He’s liable to gobble late in the season at any time.”

Late in the season, Seamster is careful not to overcall.

“More often, soft, infrequent calls do the trick. I think it’s a good idea to be subtle in calling — call less,” he said. “It’s especially important on (public) lands because turkeys usually have been pressured.

“If you’re calling a lot, he knows a hen’s out there, and she’s supposed to come to him,” he said. “But if he doesn’t hear her for a while, he’s wondering ‘Has another gobbler come in and got that hen?’ Then he goes looking for her, and that’s when you can kill him.”

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